There’s nothing quite like an infinity pool with a gorgeous view, usually of the ocean, perhaps, or a lush mountainside, but a family of elephants, babies included, gleefully stomping up to drink from the watering hole just steps away? It’s as surreal as it gets, but such is the scene when taking a dip or lounging poolside at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti in Tanzania.
There were even more unforgettable experiences in store during a recent trip to this 77-unit sanctuary, a bucket list destination for high-end meetings and incentives that is set right in the heart of Serengeti National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While the journey to get there from San Francisco was long, including two jet trips, an overnight and a propeller plane ride, good things definitely come to those who wait, starting with the champagne and canape greeting from our guide, Priscus, upon arrival at Seronera Airstrip. He then whisked us away for our “mini game drive transfer” to the Four Seasons, pointing out zebras, gazelles and wildebeests along the way.
The luxuriously rustic lodge couldn’t have been more welcoming, with staff, including members of the local Maasai tribe, exclaiming, “Jambo!” (hello in Swahili) the minute our group arrived. We were escorted along elevated wooden walkways leading to the different buildings that house 60 guest rooms, 12 suites and five free-standing villas. The 950-square-foot, richly appointed Terrace Suite came complete with an infinity plunge pool and an outdoor shower. All units boast unobstructed views of the plains and the many animals that come to graze, and the full immersion into the Africa of The Lion King comes on everything from game drives and walking safaris to hot-air balloon rides.
“The lodge offers fantastic ways for groups to spend time together,” said Martin Cody, general manager of the property. “Many are experiencing Africa for the first time. When you see your first rhino or leopard in a tree or pride of lions, it’s a wonderful memory to take home.”
Indeed it is.
Via full- and half-day game drives in the property’s Toyota Land Cruisers, featuring specially outfitted open-air roofs, Priscus led us on fascinating and beautiful journeys to see the Big Five—lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes and even black rhinos, with a population of only 40 in the Serengeti—as well as zebras, giraffes, wildebeests, gazelles, hippos and warthogs.
Meanwhile, it was a 4 a.m. wake-up call for one of the “high points” of the trip: soaring over the plains at sunrise with Serengeti Balloon Safaris, enjoying sights such as a dazzle of zebras running just below our basket, a lone gazelle giving birth and herds of wildebeests on their mass migration as far as the eye could see, not to mention the spectacular landscape dotted with acacia, sycamore fig and sausage trees. Following the flight, we were treated to a champagne breakfast in the bush.
Another standout experience was a sunset walking safari with Oli Dreike, manager of the lodge’s Discovery Center, and Kinama Marite, a member of the Maasai tribe. We followed animal footprints, watched herds of creatures pass by and listened to intriguing facts about the Serengeti ecosystem and the Maasai culture as a red-orange sun cast a stunning glow. A campfire blazed in the distance, and as we approached, we were warmly welcomed by a chef and servers for an intimate candlelight dinner in the bush.
Gourmet dining experiences at the lodge were an integral part of the trip as well, including venues ideal for groups, such as the Wine Cellar, a private pool terrace in one of the villas, and Boma Grill, where guests can enjoy and take part in traditional Maasai dancing around an open-air firepit.
Wellness amenities are also prominently featured. The lodge’s spa includes six individual treatment pavilions, and the signature Kifaa massage (Swahili for tool) utilizes a rungu, a wooden baton representing the warrior status for the Maasai. Yoga classes and sunset meditation on a rock formation are also offered.
Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti has 2,700 square feet of total event space and can host groups of up to 80 people or 160 people for a full buyout.
“The lodge appeals to everyone because of the variety of amenities we offer—game drives, excellent educational programs through the Discovery Center, three restaurants, the spa and, of course, the beautiful infinity pool,” Cody said, adding that while it’s hard to whittle down, the sight of elephants arriving at the watering hole every day has to top his list of favorite Serengeti experiences—with which I’d have to agree.
Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti